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2. Comment on current events as they relate to Bible prophecy

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Joel;s Army: Part 1


It is assumed, by most commentators that Joel 1 is describing a past locust invasion of Israel.  It should be noted the word “locust” does not appear in the text.  The NET version employs transliterated original Hebrew words in conjunction with the word “locust”, and the NET notes claim the Hebrew words have uncertain meanings.

That which the palmerworm hath left hath the locust eaten; and that which the locust hath left hath the cankerworm eaten; and that which the cankerworm hath left hath the caterpiller eaten.  (Joel 1:4 KJV)

What the gazam-locust left the 'arbeh-locust consumed, what the 'arbeh-locust left the yeleq-locust consumed, and what the yeleq-locust left the hasil-locust consumed!  (Joel 1:4 NET)

From the NET Translation Notes
The four Hebrew terms used in this verse are of uncertain meaning. English translations show a great deal of variation in dealing with these: (1) For ָגּזָם (gazam) KJV has "palmerworm," NEB "locust," NAB "cutter", NASB "gnawing locust," NIV "locust swarm," NKJV "chewing locust," NRSV, NLT "cutting locust(s)," NIrV "giant locusts"; (2) for אַרְבֶּה (’arbeh) KJV has "locust," NEB "swarm," NAB "locust swarm," NASB, NKJV, NRSV, NLT "swarming locust(s)," NIV "great locusts," NIrV "common locusts"; (3) for יֶלֶק (yeleq) KJV has "cankerworm," NEB "hopper," NAB "grasshopper," NASB "creeping locust," NIV, NIrV "young locusts," NKJV "crawling locust," NRSV, NLT "hopping locust(s)"; (4) for חָסִיל (khasil) KJV has "caterpillar," NEB "grub," NAB "devourer," NASB, NLT "stripping locust(s)," NIV, NIrV "other locusts," NKJV "consuming locust," NRSV "destroying locust." It is debated whether the Hebrew terms describe different species of locusts or similar insects or different developmental stages of the same species, or are virtual synonyms. While the last seems more likely, given the uncertainty over their exact meaning, the present translation has transliterated the Hebrew terms in combination with the word "locust."

This is most likely describing an actual locust-type invasion, however Joel applies spiritual analogies to the locusts and uses that experience as a springboard to prophesy of a desolation and destruction that will come to the land in the last days, specifically, at the day of the Lord.  He uses the plague to move prophetically to the 70th week of Daniel to prophecy of vast armies that will come and cover the land and desolate it.  Joel refers to these days as the day of the Lord which is also called the wrath of God.

How awful that day will be! For the day of the LORD is near; it will come as destruction from the Divine Destroyer.  (Joel 1:15 NET)

In verse 6, Joel describes the plague as a nation that has invaded the land.  They constitute an innumerable multitude with teeth as a lion with which they rip apart their quarry with their lioness teeth.  A prophecy in Revelation 9 has a similar tone.  Out of the smoke of the bottomless pit comes a great multitude of locust-like demonic creatures equipped as battle horses.  Among other listed attributes these locusts from the abyss have teeth as a lion.  Joel does not give the source of his prophesied lion-teeth locusts, he merely describes them as an invasion of the land.

For a nation has invaded our land. There are so many of them they are too numerous to count. Their teeth are like those of a lion; they tear apart their prey like a lioness.  (Joel 1:6 NET)

Then out of the smoke came locusts onto the earth, and they were given power like that of the scorpions of the earth.  (Revelation 9:3 NET)

Now the locusts looked like horses equipped for battle. On their heads were something like crowns similar to gold, and their faces looked like men's faces. They had hair like women's hair, and their teeth were like lions' teeth.
(Revelation 9:7-8 NET)

The daily sacrifice of grain and drink offerings have been stopped.  It is interesting that Joel proclaims “the temple of YOUR God anymore,” as if this may be a future event in which he will not be present.  It is also noteworthy the beast or antichrist will stop the daily sacrifices at the middle of the 70th week according to Daniel.

Get dressed and lament, you priests! Wail, you who minister at the altar! Come, spend the night in sackcloth, you servants of my God, because no one brings grain offerings or drink offerings to the temple of your God anymore.  (Joel 1:13 NET)

Verses 19-20 state that grass and trees will be burned, even including the wilderness.

Chapter 2 of Joel comprises an extensive description of the invading army of locust-like creatures.  It begins with another proclamation that the day of the Lord comes; it is near at hand.  It will be a day of darkness and gloominess, with clouds, and possibly other events, creating dense and thick darkness.  Revelation 9:2 speaks of the sun and the air being darkened from the smoke of the bottomless pit when it is opened by the angelic being who is given a key.

A day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness, as the morning spread upon the mountains: a great people and a strong; there hath not been ever the like, neither shall be any more after it, even to the years of many generations.  (Joel 2:2 KJV)

And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit.  (Revelation 9:2 KJV)

The fire motive is restated in verse 3:  the deadly fire is before them and after them.  Everything is devoured into a desolate wilderness.  Nothing escapes their path of destruction:  Edenic features become a desolation.

A fire devoureth before them; and behind them a flame burneth: the land is as the garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness; yea, and nothing shall escape them.  (Joel 2:3 KJV)

These locust-like creatures have an appearance of a horse and they run as a group of harnessed chariot horses.  Joel 2:4 and Rev 9:7 both indicate the appearance and shape of the locusts are as that of a horse.  They make a noise as of chariots also their wings was of the sound of a chariot with several galloping horses.

The appearance of them is as the appearance of horses; and as horsemen, so shall they run. Like the noise of chariots on the tops of mountains shall they leap, like the noise of a flame of fire that devoureth the stubble, as a strong people set in battle array.   (Joel 2:4-5 KJV)

And the shapes of the locusts were like unto horses prepared unto battle; and on their heads were as it were crowns like gold, and their faces were as the faces of men.   (Revelation 9:7 KJV)

And they had breastplates, as it were breastplates of iron; and the sound of their wings was as the sound of chariots of many horses running to battle.
(Revelation 9:9 KJV)

The Revelation locusts from Hades are given authority to torment anyone without the seal of God on their forehead for 5 months with the pain of a scorpion.  These locusts cannot harm any green plant:  grass; trees; or bushes.  Joel 2:6 states that invaded individuals will experience pain but the extent, as given in Revelation 9, is not mentioned in the Joel account.

Before their face the people shall be much pained: all faces shall gather blackness.  (Joel 2:6 KJV)

And to them it was given that they should not kill them, but that they should be tormented five months: and their torment was as the torment of a scorpion, when he striketh a man.  (Revelation 9:5 KJV)

The phrase “all faces shall gather blackness” is interesting due to the variance of interpretations in different versions:  every face shall be as the blackness of a caldron (LXX); every face turns pale (NIV); all faces collect heat (KV3); All of their faces turn pale with fright. (NET).  The inhabitants will either have a face of paleness or blackness.

With a descriptive and poetic flair, Joel describes the discipline and effectiveness of this advancing army.  They keep exact ranks and work with an excess of energy.  They run and climb as trained military personnel.  Each soldier (locust) proceeds on a specific course and they do not alter their path.  One locust does not interfere or disturb the path of another.  Each marches straight ahead without breaking rank or impeding another.  The locusts can scale walls, climb houses, and enter through a window.

Joel notes there will be earthquakes which will make the sky appear to tremble.  The sky will be made dark causing the sun, moon, and stars to be hidden from view.

The earth shall quake before them; the heavens shall tremble: the sun and the moon shall be dark, and the stars shall withdraw their shining:
(Joel 2:10 KJV)

For a more detailed analysis of the demonic locusts of Revelation 9 refer to:  The 5th and 6th Trumpet Woes

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